Latest report on the state of the OSV market

The Normand Master is a typical high-powered AHTS with a 23,500 horsepower diesel engine and a bollard pull exceeding 280 tons.
The Normand Master is a typical high-powered AHTS with a 23,500 horsepower diesel engine and a bollard pull exceeding 280 tons.
The Normand Master is a typical high-powered AHTS with a 23,500 horsepower diesel engine and a bollard pull exceeding 280 tons.

Shipbroker Marcon International recently released its latest report on the offshore support vessel market.

According to Coupeville, Wa.-based Marcon, of the 13,293 vessels and 3,749 barges it tracked as of mid-September, some 2,933 are supply and tug supply boats with 207 officially up for sale. 

“This year has seen owners and operators jockeying to gain a foothold in the U.S. Northeast windfarm work that’s beginning in earnest,” the shipbroker said. 

“Some operators have sold both operating and laid-up vessels to East Coast specialist outfits. That has led to vessel price increases and limited availability, while other owners have repositioned tonnage to that arena and have contracted directly with wind farm operators,” according to the report. “It is expected that demand for deepwater drilling projects will continue to rise assuming oil prices remain around current levels, given current geo-political conditions.” 

The brokerage noted that some 50 percent of foreign and 67 percent of U.S.-flag supply/tug boats it has officially listed for sale are direct from owners. In addition to those for sale, Marcon has 86 straight supply and tug supply vessels listed for charter worldwide.

As of mid-September, 1,152 of the vessels tracked by Marcon are crew, fast supply, and pilot boats with 148 officially listed for sale, plus 52 available for charter worldwide; 49 percent of the boats for sale are U.S.-flag. 

Of the crew boats for sale worldwide, 25 were built within the last 10 years, while 55 boats, or 37 percent, are 25 years or older. The oldest is a 40-foot, 240 BHP vessel built in 1957 that is located on the U.S. West Coast. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a 170.6 foot, foreign flag crew boat in Southeast Asia that was built in 2022. 

The shipbroker currently has 66 anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTSs) officially listed for sale – 10 fewer than September 2022 and 68 fewer than September 2018. The composition now versus five years ago has also changed, with 51 in the 4,000 to 8,000 BHP ranges. 

The largest change compared to last year was losing six in the over 12,000 BHP category. In September 2018, the average age of all AHTSs for sale was 15 years old with U.S.-flag  and foreign flag vessels averaging 29 years and 14 years, respectively. 

Today, the average age is 18 years old, with U.S.-flag AHTSs averaging 25 years and foreign flag averaging 17 years. 

When the report was released in mid-November, 14 tug supply boats officially for sale were built within the last 10 years, including one newbuilding re-sale. In 2023, 13 tug supply boats, or 20 percent, were 25 years of age, compared to five years ago, when 20 percent of AHTSs for sale were at least 25 years old. One year ago, 11 percent were at least 25 years old. 

As of September 2023, the oldest AHTS available from Marcon was a 1973-built, 191-foot, 4,600 BHP foreign flag located in Central America.

With 141 platform supply vessels (PSVs) listed for sale in mid-September, Marcon has 27 fewer listed compared to one year ago and four less than five years ago. 

Looking at the change in vessel size composition over the past year, the larger decreases were in the under 150 feet LOA (down seven), 180-190 feet LOA (down nine), and 200-220 feet LOA (down eight).

“Operating costs continue to rise across the board – from insurance to maintenance and parts to incidentals like groceries,” concluded Marcon. “Labor shortages are a daily constant struggle in the market as operators battle to retain their experienced seafarers.”